(b. 3 Aug. 1948).
Prime Minster of France, 2002–5 Raffarin became a successful marketing director before entering politics in 1976, serving as President of the regional council of Poitou-Charentes from 1988, and as member of the European Parliament from 1989. A Senator from 1995, he entered the government of Alain Juppé as Minister for Small Business and became party secretary of the UDF. Following the election defeat for the conservative parties in 1997, he left his party and joined the small Liberal Democracy Party, whose Vice-President he became. Raffarin strongly argued for greater unity among right-wing parties, and thus joined the UMP upon its foundation. In 2002, Raffarin became Chirac's surprise appointment as Prime Minister. Raffarin was commended by his moderate political outlook and his provincial origins, after the presidential election had just demonstrated the popular aversion to the Parisian political establishment. At the 2002 elections he led the UMP to a resounding victory. However, his popularity declined because he was unable to find solutions to the long-term problems of mass unemployment and the social exclusion of the suburban poor. He resigned after the French rejected the government's advice to approve the Treaty establishing a European Constitution in a referendum.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).